Monday, 19 October 2015

Whiplash - Phil's Five Words for Films

Whiplash When does pushing for glory become psychologically abusive? There are so many reasons why Whiplash is, in my opinion, the perfect film. It is not just because the script and screenplay crackle with intensity or that the film, directed by Damien Chazelle, literally never takes it's eye off the central character, Andrew. It is not even that the film was put together in less than 3 months on a remarkably small budget (£2Million). Nor is it the stunning performances that bristle with punishing ambition and the bitter sweet dangers of pushing too hard for greatness. Miles Teller and the Oscar award winning JK Simmons are both fantastic, sparring with each other throughout, a drum kit doubling as a boxing ring. Teller should also have been in the running for multiple awards for his outstanding performance. It is not just the wonderful Jazz score or the beautifully timed edit that give it a free, yet insanely focused feel. It's not the painful, high tempo, 'Rocky with Drums' training scenes or the spiteful, aggressive, redemptive tone of the ending. It is the whole. The ensemble, that pushes it forward. Raising the finale to a spine tingling final close-up. It forms one of those rare things, a film that I could watch over and over again, taking something new each time.  Whiplash.

10 out of 10
Cert 15 (UK). 106mins

Friday, 20 February 2015

Oscar Predictions 2015 - Phil's Five Words for Films

OK, so here are my thoughts on which films I think will walk away with the statues at the Oscars 2015. There could be a big 'USA/Brit' swing thing this year, with 'The Imitation Game' & 'Theory' versus the 'Boyhood' & 'Birdman'. It could go either way but I think 'Boyhood', the excellent 'Birdman' and Keaton will win by a beak and if that does happen, then 'Imitation' and 'Theory' will be drastically under represented by the end of the night. The 'production' statues will be dominated by 'The Grand Budapest Hotel', such a large gathering won't go unrecognised.

Best Picture - Boyhood
Best Director - Alejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman
Best Actor - Michael Keaton - Birdman ( 'Theory' close enough 2nd to steal it)
Best Actress - Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Best Supporting Actor - J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Best Supporting Actress - Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Best Original Screenplay - Wes Anderson - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Adapted Screenplay - Graham Moore - The Imitation Game
Best Cinematography - Emmanuel Lubezki - Birdman
Best Film Editing  - Boyhood
Best Production Design - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Costume Design - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Visual Effects - Interstellar
Best Makeup and Hairstyling - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Sound Editing - American Sniper
Best Sound Mixing - Whiplash
Best Original Score - The Theory of Everything
Best Original Song - 'Glory' Selma
Best Animated Feature - How to Train Your Dragon 2
Best Foreign Language Film - Ida

Monday, 16 February 2015

X-Men:Days of Future Past - Phil's Five Words for Films

X-Men:Days of Future Past This is a great example of the idea being better than the reality. On paper, a time travelling X-Men film starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Halle Berry and many others, seems like a great idea. Uniting the old and new cast together in one awesome film. However, if the writing is this lazy and incoherent, no amount of special effects and star dust will cover up the holes. The story is all over the place, sudden revelations crowbarred in to provide a workable plot point. Whole histories erased and characters rewritten in the name of a 'reboot'. More time was probably spent writing the cast list than developing a convincing storyline, choosing to go with 'Mutants+Matrix+Terminator'. Done. The two saving graces were

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Birdman - Phil's Five Words for Films

Birdman Riggan Thomson ( Keaton ) used to be a cinema star. An actor who played a comic book superhero in blockbuster films. The Birdman. Now, twenty years later, he is staging a risky, Broadway play and searching for acclaim and validation. His mental stability and personal life are falling to pieces and financial pressures and critical reviews may tip him over the edge. Riggan battes himself, his daughter ( Stone ), his fellow actors ( Norton ) and his 'Birdman' past. Apart from the brilliantly intense central performances from Michael Keaton, Emma Stone and Edward Norton, there are three main elements that really standout for me in 'Birdman'. Firstly, the wonderful, jazz-infused score that 'pops' and 'sizzles' throughout, adding to the freestyle weirdness of the script, sometimes encroaching on the perceived reality. The second is the long, sweeping camera shots that weave in and out of the action, continuous image streams that elegantly follow the story and add to the building insanity. You will struggle to find the joins. The third is the soaring use of

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

August: Osage County - Phil's Five Words for Films

August: Osage County It is not often that you see the brilliant Meryl Streep outdone in the acting department but, for me, Julia Roberts steals the show here and does just that. After a family tragedy, the various members of the Weston clan return home to their parent's Oklahoma house for a meal that turns in to a battle of the matriarchs, where dark secrets and family tensions are brought to the surface. Based on a play and screenplay by Tracy Letts, the film centres on this one meal and its aftermath for the majority of the film's two hour run time. It is testament to the great script and superb performances that such a limited backdrop produces such an engaging film. There is lots of acting to be seen here. So much so that Benedict